INDIE AUTHOR BETHANY ATAZADEH JOINS iWRITERLY FOR AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW ABOUT THE RELEASE OF HER BOOK, THE STOLEN KINGDOM.
Title: THE STOLEN KINGDOM
Author: Bethany Atazadeh
Pub. Date: August 2019
Age Category & Genre: Young adult fantasy
Find it: Amazon
Arie eagerly anticipates becoming Queen of her humble kingdom. Even when a Jinni’s Gift manifests before her 18th birthday, she fights to hide the forbidden ability.
But when a neighboring king attempts to manipulate her into marriage and steal her kingdom, discovery feels imminent. Just one slip could cost her throne. And her life.
A Jinni hunter and his crew of thieves are the only thing that might help her remove this Gift. And she must remove it before it’s exposed. Or die trying.
The Stolen Kingdom is a loose “Aladdin” retelling. Set in a world that humans share with Meremaids, Dragons, and the elusive Jinni, this isn’t the fairytale you remember…
Q&A WITH BETHANY ATAZADEH,
AUTHOR OF THE STOLEN KINGDOM
MEG LATORRE: When did you begin your journey as a writer? What did you envision (at that time) a writer to be like?
BETHANY ATAZADEH: It’s hard to say when I officially became a writer since I tried to write books as a kid and majored in creative writing in college. But I feel like I started to take it much more seriously at the end of 2016 when I was laid off at work. I remember having three months of severance pay and hoping I could find a way to make writing work in that time frame so that I could go on to be my own boss. I think that was my main vision, but I also adored the idea of being free to create every day.
MEG: What inspired THE STOLEN KINGDOM? Was there a single moment when the idea came to you?
BETHANY: Yes! The inspiration for THE STOLEN KINGDOM came from a few conversations with my hubby about Genie versus Jinni. He told me that the Genie in Aladdin came from the Persian culture’s Jinni. Out of curiosity, I researched the Jinni and was fascinated. That’s when TSK was born.
MEG: You chose to self-publish this book—super cool! Why did you choose this publishing path (for this book/in general)?
BETHANY: Thank you! In the beginning, I chose to self-publish because my dystopian mashup series wasn’t a good fit for traditional publishing. But I chose to continue self-publishing the fantasy series because I’m confident in my abilities now and feel strongly in this series. I’m not against traditional publishing at all, but I’m a huge fan of being my own boss and making things happen so self-publishing has been a perfect fit for me.
MEG: Looking back, what has been the most rewarding and the most challenging aspects of writing or publishing this book?
BETHANY: The most rewarding feeling by far is when people tell me how much I’ve grown as a writer OR they show me they feel that way through a new level of excitement. That’s so encouraging. The most challenging part though was dealing with imposter syndrome and feeling like I’d never be good enough as a writer. Because like we’ve talked about before, the more we grow as writers, the more aware we are of our weaknesses.
MEG: What was the process of finding freelance editors like for you and what went into your selection decision? In addition, what freelance editors did you end up working with (developmental editors, copy editors, proofreaders, etc.)?
BETHANY: I have had a lot of editors at this point and all different types. I’ve found them via Goodreads, through Reedsy, and through word of mouth. As far as how I chose them, pricing definitely plays a role. My favorite editor who worked on Pearly cost thousands of dollars, so when I asked for a quote for a four-book series, it was way out of budget, unfortunately. It was really important for me to have a quality editor but also to stick to my budget. That was the most difficult choice, for sure. The other factor that’s important to me is to see that the sample edit doesn’t change my voice, but that the suggested edits will improve the writing. (That might seem obvious but there were many sample edits that did too little and others that did too much. So, I guess what I’m saying is I need a “Goldilocks” editor who can strike a balance of “just right” lol.) I’ve worked with developmental editors in the past. At this point, I have fantastic beta readers and critique partners who help with that level of edits. For TSK, I hired a line editor/copy editor. Then I followed up with more than a dozen people willing to proofread with different skill sets.
MEG: Let’s shift to marketing. What sorts of marketing tasks have you taken on? Of the marketing campaigns you have done, what has had the greatest return on investment? (Such as social media marketing, paid campaigns, blog tours, giveaways, etc.)
BETHANY: I love marketing! I do social media/content marketing, obviously. But I’ve also done ARCs, giveaways, Instagram tours, newsletters, Amazon ads, Facebook/Instagram ads, book signings, collaborations, interviews, events like BookCon, cover reveals, and I’m sure there’s more! I’d say the greatest ROI is probably from ARCs even though it’s difficult to track it. That’s because not only do the reviewers spread the word about the book (and encourage sales at the moment), but when they leave a review it validates the book as worth purchasing for future readers and encourages future sales as well. I’d say it probably has the most long term benefits.
MEG: Finding bookish influencers who read indie books can be difficult. How can authors looking to self-publish find influencers who’d be interested in reading, reviewing, and/or featuring their book on places like a blog or YouTube channel?
BETHANY: Personally I think it’s not as hard as people think. Even when I had almost no platform I never had a problem finding people. I think the real issue is that people don’t know how to talk about their book and get people excited about it, and they definitely give up too easily. I remember reaching out to hundreds of influencers to get to my goal of at least ten people saying yes.
I always recommend that you use every platform you can to reach out to readers, such as your social media and also Goodreads forums or Facebook groups. Many people see this as out of reach because they see influencers as people with 100,000 followers, but someone with 100 followers also has influence over those 100 people. Authors can reach out to people who are at a similar level of influence with great results. And then, like I mentioned above, it’s really important to be clear about your book—to share the genre, age range, synopsis, comp titles, and whatever else will help them know exactly what you’re asking them to read.
MEG: How has writing THE STOLEN KINGDOM been compared to your other titles (fiction or nonfiction)?
BETHANY: Much harder. Like I said, the more I become aware of all my weaknesses (the more I struggle with imposter syndrome). But it’s also been the most rewarding because I can see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown.
MEG: Let’s jump back to your story! For the readers who may not be aware, what’s your story about?
BETHANY: THE STOLEN KINGDOM is a loose Aladdin retelling from the princess’s point of view. Arie wants to protect her kingdom but is struggling to hide her own secrets.
MEG: Could you explain what a Jinni’s gift is? Why must it be removed?
BETHANY: Sure! The Jinni are a race full of different magical abilities or “Gifts.” While they live in Jinn, a few have been banished and intermingled with humans. Their offspring with Jinni blood have the potential to develop one of the Jinni’s Gifts. But there’s a lot of prejudice in the human world against the Gifted, and most specifically against women with Gifts. They’re put on trial and usually found incapable of handling their Gift or a danger to others, which is why their Gift is then removed.
BETHANY: Dang these questions are hard haha. I love them! One of the coolest aspects (although I’m afraid it might sound repetitive) would probably be the Jinni. They’re so fascinating, and diving into a more unique fantasy creature was really fun!
MEG: You are also writing subsequent books in this series and aiming for a quick release. What has writing for a series on a quick-release schedule been like? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of releasing books in a series quickly?
BETHANY: I am. Originally, I’d intended to publish every two months or less. Now, my hope is to have roughly four months between books. The advantages of a quick release for indie authors are numerous, but it helps readers not to forget you and your story. It helps sell a lot more books, as the story is still fresh in their mind and the excitement is still high when the next book becomes available. Writing on this schedule though has been extremely draining. If I’d stuck to my plans, to draft all four books in a row before beginning edits/marketing, it might have been easier. But instead, I tried to edit book one while writing the others. Multi-tasking in that way doesn’t seem to work for me, so I still haven’t finished drafting the end of book four. All that to say, I’m not sure yet if fast releases are for me, but definitely not to the extremes I’ve pushed myself to with this series.
MEG: Do you have other books coming down the pipeline that we can keep an eye out for?
BETHANY: I do! After THE STOLEN KINGDOM releases on August 20, 2019, I’ll dive back into editing book two in the series, THE JINNI KEY, which comes out on December 3rd, 2019! It will be a loose Little Mermaid retelling that continues the story from book one.
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THANKS SO MUCH TO BETHANY FOR JOINING US TODAY!
About Bethany Atazadeh
Bethany Atazadeh is a Minnesota-based author of YA novels, children’s books, and non-fiction. She graduated from Northwestern College in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a writing emphasis. After graduation, she pursued songwriting, recording, and performing with her band, and writing was no longer a priority. But in 2016, she was inspired by the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a novel in 30 days, and since then she hasn’t stopped. With her degree, she coaches other writers on both YouTube and Patreon, helping them publish their books. She is obsessed with stories, chocolate, and her corgi puppy, Penny.